Despite how it might seem, I’m a man that likes to keep things pretty simple. I love schedule and order and left to my own devices I would likely eat the same food and drink the same drinks, day-in and day-out, indefinitely. I like peace and calm; I’m not given to emotional extremes. This universal equilibrium is consistently the case for me, across the board, with one small exception. For reasons unbeknownst to me, and beyond any contiguous form of reason….I have always had a deep and abiding weakness for complicated women. They have always vexed me and the more aloof and mysterious; the darker and more unpredictable they were, the more I was powerless to resist them.
This bizarre duality is something that marked my entire young adult life and my keen awareness of it is what led me to immediately identify, even from across the crowded coffee shop where she was singing, that Jenni was the woman I wanted to marry. I was, in fact, so convinced of this realization that I told the friend I was standing with as much, within moments of entering the coffee shop, and despite the absurdity of the assertion, he could tell even then that what I had just told him was more than a superficial flight of fancy.
Never one to miss an opportunity, I quickly arranged for the group that I came with to spend the remainder of the evening after her performance hanging out with her group of friends at a nearby restaurant. I also surreptitiously secured the efforts of my band of cohorts to make sure that when we arrived at the restaurant, she and I would “coincidentally” end up alone at a table together. She was, of course, in no way oblivious to what I was doing but humored my scheming none the less.
During the lively and provocative conversation that followed I was informed, in no uncertain terms, that my choice of college (which I had just enrolled in that week) was foolish, my taste in music was questionable and that the substance of my personal faith was superficial, at best. Needless to say….I was smitten.
The following three years would read similar to that first evening together as I progressively and painstakingly dismantled her defenses, earned her affections and eventually, secured our first date. There were three weeks between our first date and my proposal; three months between it and our wedding day. On November 14th of this year it will have been 17 years since that unseasonably warm day which ended in a snow storm and launched this storied adventure that we’re on.
There have been unimaginably hard times. There have been gloriously celebratory times. We have been broken and healed. We have broken each other and have learned to forgive and rebuild. We have created new lives together and watched them become people in front of us. We have made mistakes. We have had victories and losses. We have sung and wept and danced and screamed and broken doors and built for ourselves a home.
As I prepared to write this piece it occurred to me that I no longer feel this weakness for complicated women. This is not because I’ve grown tired of the drama and wish that our life together was less complex than it is. It’s not even that I’m so enthralled by her that I don’t even see any other women, though that’s a very romantic notion that a wiser man would probably have ended with.
In fact, the real reason that I don’t have a weakness for the complicated any more is that I’ve realized that it simply doesn’t exist. Or rather, the absence of it doesn’t. Life is messy. It’s inherently complicated. And living life with another person, choosing day by day to go straight through the firefight instead of just walking away, is the hardest and most unreasonable path you could possibly choose in life. To think for a second that living this kind of life could be uncomplicated is foolish and naive. But to think that avoiding this kind of life would somehow prevent you from experiencing these kind of complications would be equally as foolish.
Life is going to be hard; trying to prevent that is futile. Instead, find someone whose presence in your life makes all the hard things seem like not such a big deal. Our best efforts can really only make this life negligibly better in the grand scheme of things because there will always be highs and lows. Living life with someone whose presence elevates the highs and shares the burdens of the lows is the only real way to experience a better, happier life. If you give yourself fully to that person and you sacrifice all that you are, and they do the same, there is no better human experience that we can have here on Earth.
Jenni is that person for me. It’s my life’s ambition to make sure that she feels the same way. And this is a good life to have.